- The Last Stand of the Pack: Critical Edition by Arthur H. Carhart in collaboration with Stanley P. Young. Edited by Andrew Gulliford and Tom Wolf
Perhaps more than any other wild animal in North America, the wolf has long sparked emotional, inflamed, and violent responses from human communities. What can critical reflection on past interspecies encounters reveal about contemporary conditions, and how can it inform our comingled futures? The Last Stand of the Pack: Critical Edition brings past attitudes into dialog with those of the present in order to explore the potential for recovery of the species in Colorado.
In the volume's introduction, coeditor Tom Wolf positions Arthur Carhart as a "prophet" in the cause to save wilderness as "something that could mark America as the Chosen Land, as God's own country" (xii). Utilizing patriotic and religious rhetoric more often associated with the articulation of anti-wolf sentiment, he seeks a new cultural path to coexistence, noting, "They will have no wolves in Colorado until we learn to say to hell with our differences and reunite behind our true heritage as Americans: a wild wilderness" (xiii).
Comprising the first half of the volume, Carhart's The Last Stand of the Pack (1929) weaves together intimate tales of men and wolves at moments of violent encounter. While Carhart engages with familiar recriminations of wolves as violent, unnatural "outlaws," the narrative also contains moments of admiration and sympathy for these animals, revealing a complex, contradictory biopolitics that remains interwoven in wolf-human relations today.
The second part of the book situates The Last Stand within contemporary debates concerning the return of the wolf to the front ranges of Colorado. Coeditor Andrew Gulliford notes that within a year of publication, Carhart queried, "Isn't it a just consideration that the cats and wolves and coyotes have a damned sight better basic right to live in the hills . . . than the domestic livestock of the stockmen?" (230). Gulliford considers how such shifts in perception might be facilitated today, noting the potentialities and impediments to wolf restoration are located within deeply held human value systems. He locates a way forward through culturally informed measures that acknowledge and are sensitive to the fears and values of local human communities.
Two subsequent chapters written by stakeholders collectively articulate popular rationales central to contemporary anti-wolf sentiment. Concerns for personal safety, citing hyperbolic tales of wolf predation, remain a common refrain, while the protection of financial interests and lifeways tied to the land underlay this resistance. These chapters reinforce Gulliford's position that pro-wolf arguments founded in science are not enough to sway opinion. Rather, the fears, values, and needs of the local community must be addressed by pro-wolf advocates. In the final chapter, authors Phillips, Bishop, and Gardner address the enduring "power of myths" in conveying misinformation about wolves, as articulated in the prior chapters. They highlight outreach and education efforts by grassroots community groups to address these fears and to "fix a narrative that is vastly different" than the one that has so far informed human-wolf relationships, in order to form "a restorative and affirming relationship" (271) moving forward.
The authors collectively offer valuable insight into the challenges ahead for wolf restoration in Colorado. This volume joins an important body of work on wolf-human relationships in North America and represents a significant contribution in theory and method for practitioners and scholars working in fields as diverse as environmental history, animal studies, and conservation social science. [End Page 45]